Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, is also one of the most scenically stunning islands in the world. Tenerife is about 300 kilometres from the African continent and about 1,300 kilometers from Mainland Spain. It enjoys a steady year-round, spring-like temperature with a yearly average of 23 degrees centigrade. Dominated by the gigantic outline of 12,198 ft.-high Mount Teide, this amazing volcanic island offers a wide variety of landscapes and tourist experiences.
On a visit there, you might find yourself strolling through a sleepy hillside village, breathing in a lush laurisilva forest consisting of laurel trees and ferns or making your way through the dense foliage of a banana plantation. You can crash on a sunny and golden/black sandy beach or scale a snow-capped mountain, enjoy a gentle round of golf or a fiercely fought game of tennis, shop for local handicrafts or international designer wear, go on a whale and dolphin watching trip all year round, dine the traditional tapas and famous "wrinkled potatoes" with mojo sauce or in a Michelin-starred restaurant – on this most varied of islands, the choice is yours.
Upon reaching Tenerife's main port of Santa Cruz, if your ship parks at the bottom of its U-shaped harbor, you'll face a hot 15-minute walk to reach it all -- unless your cruise company provides a shuttle bus to the port gates. It's worth persisting, though; don't be tempted to stay onboard here however fine your ship ... as Santa Cruz, a historic city founded in the 15th century, is well worth the effort.
Once outside the port gates you'll find a broad and beautiful promenade -- the elaborately named Avenida Maritima -- running right along the seafront; there's broad tree-lined pavement on one side and, across the busy road, a long parade of shops, cafes, restaurants and nightclubs (including one called rather cleverly Klan D Stino!).
The streets running inland from this promenade hold jewellery shops filled with fine silver goods, high street shopping brands, good thing to remember is that the Canary Islands are a low tax area so you will always find good bargain-priced goods that make Tenerife such a popular call.
It is rare to find your ship right at the bottom of the U (i.e. the farthest distance from the port gates) without a shuttle bus service being provided (usually for free, but check with your cruise line).
Watch out for heavy traffic as you cross the main promenade.
The local currency is the euro. Check www.xe.com or www.oanda.com for the most updated exchange rates. If you've run out of cash and don't want to change money on your ship, don't panic; there are plenty of banks, ATMs and Bureaux de Change along Santa Cruz's waterfront and on its main shopping streets. Hotels will also change cash, but rates vary considerably, so proceed with caution.
The main language is Spanish, and though many locals have at least a smattering of English, it is worth taking a phrase book along if you plan to explore on your own. Here are some basics to get you started: hola and adios (hello and goodbye); por favor and gracias (please and thank you); cuanto cuesta? (How much?); and, possibly the most useful of all, habla Ingles? (Do you speak English?).
Stylish and affordable silver items from the jewelry shops along Bethencourt Alfonso; €55 will buy a very substantial silver bracelet, while €35 will get you a pretty and solid ring. A bottle of Tenerife wine (Canarian sack was mentioned in Shakespeare!) is also a great choice. The island has five designations of origin, and the rich volcanic soil in which the vines are grown gives them a special character and different nuances.